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Debate Sparks as Brazil Tourism Board Asks FIFA to Lower Hotel Prices for World Cup

August 26, 2013 at 9:15 AM | by | Comments (0)

Brazil's tourism board recently conducted a study of room rates and concluded that FIFA and its booking agency, Match Services, are jacking up the price of hotel rooms for next summer's World Cup.

Everyone expects room rates to be high during the Cup, but the tourism board thinks it's getting out of control, citing markups of 500% in some cases. What's worse is that the board suspects FIFA and Match are adding their own markup on top of the prices set by hoteliers. And not just a few taxes -- a 40% markup.

"We reiterate that FIFA/Match charges mark-up rates of more than 40 per cent on the amount contracted with the hotel, something that contributes decisively to the increase of the already high rates," the tourism board said in a document obtained by the Associated Press.

The big difference between the two sides is that the tourism board is looking at the big picture when it comes to the World Cup -- the type of experience fans have while in Brazil -- as opposed to the bottom line. It is interested in how the country is perceived by visitors, and it fears that overly high prices will make tourists leave with a false impression/bad taste in their mouths, not necessarily wanting to return or highly recommend it to friends. FIFA and Match, however, aren't operating with Brazil's reputation in mind -- they want to make money.

Match has since denied the claims that they are marking up rates, insisting that they follow "charges set by the hotel owners and other tourism stakeholders."

Obviously, someone here is being less than truthful. If FIFA is indeed further increasing prices for their own profits, we do believe that to be a really low blow considering that this is not the first time the economics of the World Cup have been an issue. Last June, locals protested poor public services despite large government spending to host the tournament.

If some of the tourism dollars aren't staying in the country (aka going to FIFA) and the ones that are aren't helping the local cities and communities, then tourism is officially doing more harm than good, no?

[Photo: Flickr]

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